Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Heterodox

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is heterodox. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

A synonym of both unorthodox and unconventionalheterodox describes something, such an idea or belief, that is contrary to or different from an acknowledged standard, a traditional form, or an established religion. Heterodox can also describe a person or group that holds unorthodox opinions or doctrines.

// The columnist’s heterodox opinions on everything from dietary trends to the tax code made her a frequent lightning rod for criticism by the newspaper’s more old-fashioned readership.

HETERODOX in Context

“[Ross] Perot’s personality was mercurial, his leadership style authoritarian, and his views heterodox. He opposed free trade and abortion restrictions and supported gun regulation and balanced budgets. Unlocking the key to his appeal, which attracted Republicans and Democrats in roughly equal numbers, would not be easy.” — Nicole Hemmer, The Atlantic, 19 Sep. 2022

Did You Know?

Hot take: individuals often see other people’s ideas as unconventional while regarding their own as common sense. On second thought, this take may be more on the mild side—in other words, closer to orthodox (“conventional”) insight about human nature than to heterodox (“unconventional” or “contrary”) opinion. Both orthodox and heterodox developed from the same root, the Greek doxa, meaning “opinion.” Heterodox combines doxa with heter-, a combining form meaning “other” or “different”; orthodox pairs doxa with orth-, meaning “correct” or “straight.”

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